MEET THE Chefs that make it all happen!
Click here for the Chef Battle Royale Competing Chef bios
CHEF VITO RACANELLI
Executive Chef, Culinary Innovation, Anheuser-Busch
Vito Racanelli is the Executive Chef of The Taste of St. Louis, managing the culinary stage and the Chef Battle Royale culinary battles.
He also heads up the Culinary Innovation team for Anheuser-Busch, giving him the opportunity to work alongside some of the best chefs in the United States. He also spends time regularly collaborating with culinary schools, where he teaches about the fundamentals of beer and beer pairings and also teaches Italian and pasta-making classes.
Chef Racanelli’s passion is to cook with fresh, local ingredients. He is a lifetime member of Slow Foods and committed to artisan producers and small farmers. His love for food is apparent in the artistic, inspired dishes that he creates. A native New Yorker, Racanelli is a graduate of the prestigious Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island and has been cooking for more than 25 years. Chef Racanelli has worked in AAA five star and Michelin stared restaurants and hotels in New York City. Early in his career Vito spent time in Italy studying his family roots and learning about Italian culture and food.
He has a fun, passionate, kind-hearted attitude. “I love food; it is so much of my life and soul.” Vito most recently had a 4-year run as the chef-owner of Mad Tomato in Clayton, MO. Before that, he was chef owner of Big V's in the Loop and Onesto in St. Louis City.
Racanelli has been voted one of Sauce Magazine’s Best St. Louis Chefs and 2013 Best Chefs America. Chef Racanelli has received numerous awards for his former Restaurants, including: St. Louis Magazine's Best New Restaurant, Riverfront Times' Best Italian Restaurant, Sauce Magazine's Favorite Italian Restaurant, and Alive Magazine's Best New Restaurant. Racanelli has also been nominated by his peers and chosen to be published in the book, Best Chefs America.
Racanelli and his wife Amy share a passion for cooking and travel. They are both involved in the planning of a vocational cooking school in Guatemala with the organization "Send Me".
CHEF ANGELA KOMIS
Lakeland Marketing, Corporate Chef
Angela Komis was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. As a baby, her Mother and Grandmother used to take her shopping to Famous Barr at Northwest Plaza. Along with fashion, that’s where her addiction to the culinary arts/sciences and business began.
In the restaurant at Famous Barr, she fell in love with the taste of Chef Manfred Zettl’s world-renowned French Onion Soup. In fact, Chef Zettl and the servers loved to come to the table and marvel at the small child obsessively devouring a whole bowl of his internationally acclaimed recipe. Acknowledging her “adult palette,” Angela's Mom said "I never thought she would grow to someday become a Chef until later in life when I looked back to the "Onion Soup Days" and said, I should have known!"
On Angela's Father’s side, she learned and cherished the many divine Greek family recipes she created. She still tends to lean to the Mediterranean side of her heritage when developing recipes. From her Mother came the delicious and hearty German side of the family’s dinner table. From her first job as a restaurant server to the present day, Chef Komis has continued multifaceted workings in the industry. From the back of the kitchen to the now, sales and distribution, she knows the business of food.
With the St. Louis opening of L’Ecole Culinaire came the opportunity for Angela to get the formal culinary education and in two years of study and hands-on, she received her degree as part of the University’s very first graduating class. Her education continued in the South of France under the tutelage of Master Chef Renee Berard. https://www.hotel-berard.com/en/
Back in the United States, she began work as Sous Chef at The Market at Busch’s Grove, Executive Chef at Lola in Downtown St. Louis, and Local Harvest in Kirkwood, which she helped start. She made Paleo meals for the St. Louis Cardinals’ players and soon after landed the Executive Chef status at Nosh in Maplewood, and more.
On the Media side, as a Consultant and/or Chef, Angela represented many employers and clients on Radio, TV and in Print (contributor to and in Feast Magazine). She has also found great reward in her role as an Alumni Instructor/Teacher at L’Ecole Culinaire.
From cooking food to selling food, she presently finds herself in an exhilarating capacity as the Corpoarte Chef at Lakeland Marketing in St. Louis. Angela is the Executive Producer at the Taste of St. Louis where she helps conceive, strategize, arrange, employ, promote, implement, gather, deliver and produce the exciting Chef Battle Royale!
CHEF CHRISTIAN GULLET
Chef Christian Gullet has been on the Culinary Team for the Taste of St. Louis for several years. He helps coordinate the culinary needs for the Culinary Stage, the Commissary Kitchen and the VIP. He currently leads the innovative culinary team at Lutheran Senior Services at Mason Pointe. Originally from Memphis, where he discovered his passion for food working at Southern staple restaurants and learning what “from scratch cooking” really means, he pursued his culinary education at the renowned culinary program at Forest Park in St. Louis. He completed his apprenticeship at Greenbriar Hills Country Club and made his entry as an Executive Chef in Hotels such as Starwood’s and Hilton’s throughout St. Louis.
He was recently with Sodexo at SSM DePaul Health Center and was the Culinary Champion for the system before joining this dynamic team, where he was instrumental in developing and leading Culinary Foundations training for the team of associates in St. Louis and Oklahoma, he continues to lead his kitchen in phenomenal culinary execution and training.
Chef Gullet is a seasoned talent with all-encompassing experience in the culinary arena, and committed to ensuring a fantastic food experience for all of his Residents and guests.
CHEF MARTIN LOPEZ
Professional Chef, Food Writer, Blogger and Culinary Journalist, Published Author, Culinary Ambassador for the Hispanic Community, TV Personality and Host.
Born in Mexico City by a hardworking, dedicated Mother, the versatility of ingredients were shown to Martin at an early stage. At seven years old, he was already part of the kitchen household responsibilities and showing his passion for cooking. Having three brothers and three sisters made a large family and with Mexican European traditions, needless to say there was a lot of cooking involved. It is no surprise that Chef Martin fell in love with the art of cooking from a very early age.
After travels to Europe, Mexico, and South America, Chef Martin has created an array of dishes of multicultural cuisines, and started to combine ingredients from all around the world to create dishes that now all of us are more accustomed to. His background and his love of art, along with his cooking, his Latino and Hispanic pride married into what he calls now Mexican Novelle, a cuisine with European undertones.
In 2009 Chef Martin was the founder of ChefMartin.net developing this nonprofit site to share his feelings and passion about his cooking and the community. He now has thousands of followers on Facebook, twitter, Instagram and his website. As he continues to cook, write, document, develop recipes, and share his passion for his cooking and food trends, he is often heard on the Radio and seen on TV shows in the USA and Mexico in an array of networks including Univision, Televisa, CBS, FOX, TLC and ABC. Also presenting and judging food competitions in renown national food festivals such as “The Taste of St Louis” “Working Women’s Survival Show” and “The Bite of Seattle” to name a few. He is also a huge contributor with food articles and recipes for dozens of publications across the country and he plays a huge role for strategic philanthropy for the community interest in many organizations.
As one of the leading Chefs responsible for the opening of one of the biggest attractions in the city of St Louis, “Cardinals Nation” he was also a lead Chef for the “MLB All Star Game 2009” Galas serving thousands of people including the President of the United States Barack Obama. Consulting food establishments for growth and teaming up with top restaurateurs from around the country such as recently in 2013, Chef Martin and Richard Nix from St Louis Mo, owner of Butler’s Pantry and Bixby’s at the City History Museum, created one of the newest, most delicious spots in the country, with a new concept in an Italian bakery called “Piccione Pastry” His Passion for world gastronomy, culture, education and cooking continues as he is now a regular columnist for one of the leading professional hospitality magazine “Missouri Meeting and Events” and he is also part of the faculty team for the St Louis Community College Hospitality Program at Forest Park ranking top charts in the nation.